The good news is that Jimmy Adams, the new director of West Indies cricket, says he believes the eligibility rules governing selection should be changed.
The bad news is that he also believes that the change may take some time because it will involve a “process”—somewhat like the “process” that led to the rule in the first place, which made it impossible for the region to ever select its best team.
I confess to being worried about the need for a long period of thinking to change rules which, although packaged to appear as concerned with development, were on their face irrational.
In sport, forgetting what happened nine years ago may be forgiven; not so forgetting what happened mere nine months ago. In June last year, the WI defeated both Australia and South Africa once to reach the final in the tripartite 50-over series. Among the players making the biggest contributions to the West Indian successes were Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin and Marlon Samuels.
Commenting on the poor performances against England in the recently completed series, a former manager noted the side’s unprofessional nature, with particular reference to the individualism displayed. He made no reference to the absence from the team of every one of the above-named players, along with other experienced players.
No mention was made either of the fact that no member of the squad had played even 20 such matches. And for the first time in recent memory, not one cricketer from Jamaica, which had made it to the regional finals, played a single game.
One likely explanation for the alleged individualism displayed was arguably that, in an attempt to ensure future selection, each of these relatively untried players might have been more preoccupied with his own individual success than with the team’s performance.
The endless battle with “stars” and “would-be stars” and the unrelenting use of the blunt instrument of exclusion from the squad as the sole method of punishment for players must end; although it may satisfy the egos of directors, it necessarily results in the weakening of teams.
Not every act or statement that appears to challenge authority or even criticise directors should be seen as a direct or indirect threat to the continued existence of the WICB.
The lines of authority are just too sharply drawn and those of us who have eyes to see it have a duty to point it out.
Only recently, the Governor of the ECC Bank said, “We don’t have a particularly good record of managing things.”
Had he been thinking of the WICB in particular or West Indies cricket in general, he might have been minded to add, “Or people.”